The Colloquium contributions and discussions mirrored the period wherein the observational data concerning the Solar system bodies changed very dramatically owing to new technologies and programs. The Colloquium program presented the quantitative jump of observations of asteroids and comets, new discoveries, and photometric data. It concerned the NEAs and main belt asteroids discoveries, discoveries of many new comets and bodies belonging to the very critical population being half way between two sources of short period comets. The Colloquium was a good platform for both theoretical and observational papers where observational data, fundamental for theoretical works, did not disappear among the large number of important contributed and invited talks. There was a lot of space to compare the data obtained by classical and new observational techniques with hypotheses and theoretical models of dynamical evolution of asteroids and comets. The scientific program of the Colloquium enabled to present new knowledge on the wide common field of cometary and asteroidal astronomy, studying the origin and dynamical evolution of these celestial bodies.
The presented works on asteroids and comets showed qualitative jump when compared to classical books. Discussed were more sophisticated dynamical models directed especially towards collisions of asteroids, their fragmentation, age of asteroids families, and transportation of the asteroid material within the space of the Solar system. The very young asteroid families and weak resonances were shown to be very important for the distribution of the asteroid material.
The Colloquium drew a comprehensive scenario of dynamical evolution of observed different populations of small bodies as transneptunian objects, Halley type comets, Jupiter family of comets, main belt asteroids, near Earth objects, and peculiar orbital groups generated by multistage captures and specific nongravitational forces from material originated in the early period of the formation of the Solar system. Very fruitful were the talks and discussions about the early phases of the Solar system, long time scale aging processes, and different populations of small bodies observed recently.
At the Colloquium presented were several invited lectures of which only a few were really classical review papers. Most of them were presented in a seminar style, giving chance to wide discussion. This style contributed to a productive scientific atmosphere of the Colloquium.
The scientific sessions of the Colloquium were hold at the Congress Center of the Slovak Academy of Sciences, Stara Lesna (close to Tatranska Lomnica). The location of the Colloquium and accommodation of participants gave much opportunity for personal discussions after sessions. These were even more fruitful than the immediate reactions after the lectures where the time for discussion was limited.
In all, some 96 participants from 22 countries attended IAU Coll. No. 173 and some 67 papers including posters were presented. This book presents the written version of most of those contributions.
We would like to take the opportunity here to thank the staff of the Scientific and Local Organizing Committees for the great organizing effort. We are most indebted to sponsor organizations and agencies for financial and other support which enabled many astronomers from economically weak countries to take part in the Colloquium. Thus, the Colloquium was a discussion forum for scientists from nearly all countries, where asteroidal and cometary problems are investigated.
We hope that the Colloquium was a good platform to shift the knowledge about asteroids and comets a little bit forward again and that the time spent here was of benefit to all participants. Let the High Tatras and the Colloquium remind us the same as the small planet with rose on it reminds to the Little prince. Good luck for asteroids and comets!
We particularly wish to acknowledge the help of chairpersons of the
sessions and the reviewers listed below. Most of them have reviewed two or
more papers. Without their help in this thankless task the scientific level of
the book would not be as high as it is now.
Eduard M. Pittich
Last update: February 9, 2000